Donald Trump says he will make 'big announcement' over birth of Obama

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York on Sept 15, 2016.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York on Sept 15, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (Bloomberg) - United States Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said he will make a "big announcement" on Friday (Sept 16) about his view on President Barack Obama's birth, which he has declined to publicly acknowledge took place in the US.

"You watch my statement," Mr Trump said in a phone interview on Fox Business, suggesting it would take place at a 10am campaign event he has scheduled in Washington at his namesake hotel. "We have to keep the suspense going."

"I think you'll be happy," he told host Maria Bartiromo.

Mr Trump's years-long unwillingness to publicly recognise Mr Obama's citizenship flared up again on Thursday when he told the Washington Post he did not want to answer whether he believed Mr Obama was born in Hawaii. He has gained in polls on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and now seeks to pull ahead after a rocky stretch for her campaign.

"I'll answer that question at the right time," Mr Trump told the Post. "I just don't want to answer it yet."

His campaign then issued a statement saying Mr Trump did believe in Mr Obama's US birth.

"Having successfully obtained President Obama's birth certificate when others could not, Mr Trump believes that President Obama was born in the United States," Trump spokesman Jason Miller said in the statement.

Mr Trump's son Donald Trump Jr. on Thursday said the spokesman's statement should be taken as the nominee's own view. "That is coming from him," Mr Trump Jr. said on "Good Morning America" prior to his father's interview.

Mr Trump has previously discounted statements made on his behalf, however.

"Don't believe the biased and phony media quoting people who work for my campaign," he tweeted in May. "The only quote that matters is a quote from me!"

Mr Trump on Fox Business repeated his accusation that Mrs Clinton started the so-called birther issue in her 2008 presidential primary race against Mr Obama, and said Mrs Clinton was "incapable" of finishing it.

The nonpartisan fact-checking site PolitiFact has rated the accusation "false," saying "the birther movement appears to have begun with Democrats supporting Clinton and opposing Obama" but "there is no direct tie to Clinton or her 2008 campaign".

"Most of the talk started after Clinton suspended her presidential campaign," PolitiFact said.

Mrs Clinton on Thursday ripped Mr Trump for telling the Post he did not want to answer where he believed Mr Obama was born.

"He still wouldn't say Hawaii. He still wouldn't say America," Mrs Clinton said at a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute awards gala in Washington. "This man wants to be our next president? When will he stop this ugliness, this bigotry?"